Celtics Roll into Dallas to Face Tough Mavericks

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Boston Celtics (44-24) at Dallas Mavericks (46-22)
Saturday, March 20
9:00 PM ET
Game #69 Road Game #36
American Airlines Center

Referees:    Ron Garretson, Matt Boland, Kevin Fehr

The Celtics continue their tough stretch of 3 games in 4 nights against a very strong Dallas Mavericks team. The Mavs improved themselves a great deal at the trade deadline when they added Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stephenson. All 3 are playing well for their new team.

The Mavericks are in the 3rd spot in the West, battling with Denver, who is half a game ahead of the Mavs, for the second spot. They are just 4 games behind the Lakers and would love to take over that top spot so they are taking every game seriously and playing hard.

The Mavs are a good home team with a 24-10 record and are 9-1 in their last 10 games. The Celtics have been a good road team and are 23-12 on the road and 7-3 in their last 10. This is the second meeting between these two teams with the Mavs winning 99-90 in Boston. After that game, Sheed was fined $35,000 for complaining about the refs favorable treatment of Dirk Nowitski and he vowed retribution for that game.

The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games after beating a tough Rockets team the night before. Paul Pierce was in foul trouble early and played only 28 minutes. KG played 31 minutes and Ray Allen played 36 minutes so hopefully they will still have some energy for this game. The Celtics defense was great against the Rockets. They withstood a couple of runs by the Rockets and just buckled down and built the lead back up again, both of which are good signs for this team. A win against a Dallas team that has been on fire would go a long way to convince the fans that the Celtics are heading in the right direction.

Probable Starters 
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PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Ray Allen
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Kevin Garnett
C: Kendrick Perkins

Probable Starters
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PG: Jason Kidd
SG: Caron Butler
SF: Shawn Marion
PF: Dirk Nowitski
C: Brandon Haywood
Key Matchups
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Rajon Rondo vs Jason Kidd
Kidd may be slowing down, but he is still a tough matchup. Rondo has to continue to be aggressive and use his speed to beat Kidd.

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Kevin Garnett vs Dirk Nowitski
Dirk is a tough cover since he is a threat from beyond the arc as well as in the paint. KG needs to make Dirk work on both ends of the court. Dirk had 37 points in their win in Boston and KG has to do a better job of defending him in this game.

Honorable Mention
Nate Robinson vs Jason Terry
Terry is a scoring threat off the bench for the Mavs and is averaging almost 17 points per game. Nate will need to play his game and give the Celtics some offense off the bench as well as limiting Terry's scoring threat.

Keys to the Game
Defense When the Celtics play their trademark tough defense, they are very hard to beat. We saw the Celtics customary defense against the Rockets and the question is, can they bring it two nights in a row. They need to get back to consistently playing the tough lock down defense night in and night out.

Rebound The Mavericks are a very good rebounding team and the Celtics need to be aggressive in crashing the boards and going after rebounds. Limiting the Mavs' second chance points will be important.

Limit Turnovers The Celtics still turn the ball over too much and they need to work on taking better care of the ball. A team like the Mavs will make them pay by converting the turnovers into points. Most turnovers are the result of a lack of focus and so the Celtics must also improve their level of focus.

Be Aggressive The Celtics need to be aggressive in going after loose balls and taking the ball to the basket. While the Celtics are good shooters, they shouldn't depend on the outside shot. They need to aggressively take the ball to the hoop as well as be aggressive in going after loose balls and rebounds.

Back to Back
The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games. Fatigue could be a factor in this one.